Climate Change: Challenge to Humanity
It’s real. The winters are getting colder and summers warmer. The alarming shift in weather patterns caused by climate change has posed a serious challenge to humanity, a challenge to human existence itself. This disturbing trend is felt everywhere and Nagaland is no exception. A look at the weather pattern in Northeast India over the past few decades shows rainfall deficiency on one hand and devastating floods on the other. Like several other states across the country, the region is experiencing an unusual cold wave this year with snowfall being experienced in several locations where such sights are uncommon though situated in the Himalayan region. The visuals of people merrily playing in the snow (many for the first time) are flooding social media platforms. However, these visual attractions can be seen as alarming signs of what climate change can do to humankind. Scientists have linked extreme winter in several parts of the world to the accelerated warming of the Arctic region, which ultimately affects the pattern of the polar vortex, a low pressure area and cold air surrounding the Earth’s poles. They have warned that the implications of this environmental disturbance on the planet would be colossal. Sensing this inevitable self destruction, governments across the world have come together to formulate action plans and measures to check this disturbing global phenomenon. But going by the pace of progress to mitigate this human-induced warming of the Earth system over the last few years, it appears as though the world will fail to achieve global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a target which the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change said is needed to keep the temperature rise below 1.5°C.
India, the world’s third largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) after China and the US, had set a bold target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) that India would achieve this goal through action plans such as increase of non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW and meeting 50% of electricity requirements using renewable energy by 2030. This means India will have to invest big to reach its set target. Towards this end, the Centre allocated INR 19,500 crore for manufacturing high efficiency solar modules under PLI and to co-fire 5 to 7% cent biomass pellets in thermal power plants to save 38 MMT of CO2 annually. This is a step in the right direction to meet the country’s 2070 goal, which requires a detailed action plan to be implemented over the next few decades. The Centre should invest in the Northeast to address the consistent loss of forest in the region, which is home to one-fourth of India’s green cover, without affecting the livelihoods of the people. The long-term gains from investing in reducing carbon footprint will outweigh the economic distress it gives today. Countries like India with heavy labour workforce will suffer more from climate change in the form of loss of work hours. We will soon feel the heat if we don’t take action now.